While there are still players to be signed in free agency and a few deals we are waiting on details for I think we can begin to assess just how much teams were impacted by the offseason. For each team I looked at their 2021 roster and calculated how much contract value was lost to other teams in 2022 via free agency or trade to determine how much value was lost to a team. I then looked at how much every team added in contract value for players who were not on their team last season. These were all calculated using annual contract values as the baseline for value gained or lost. If a player retired it is considered no impact since they no longer have an active contract. The same goes for players who we do not have contract details for or have yet to sign a contract. We will revisit these again in the summer when those are all taken into account. Here is a quick look at each team.
After calculating the number I broke each team down into groups with some quick thoughts on the strategies for the year.
The Big Movers
The clear big movers this offseason were the Browns, Dolphins, Jaguars, Broncos and Chargers. Each of these teams had a net positive gain over $40 million per year for 2022. Each had minimal losses with the exception of the Jaguars who lost over $40 million in contract value to other teams, which ranked 13th in the league. That was made up for by their massive spending spree which ranked 1st in the NFL at nearly $95 million per year. You can argue whether or not the contract values made sense for the players they signed but in the mind of the Jaguars they did. Miami’s number is a bit inflated due to Tyreek Hill counting at $30 million a season, but they would be top 3 even if we pulled him out. The Chargers and Broncos both made major moves. All five of these teams should have major expectations for this year.
The next tier of teams range between $20 and $30 million in added annual salary. Four of the five were playoff teams looking to get better. Those were the Steelers, Bills, Titans, and Raiders. The Raiders made the biggest splash by adding the 4th most value, a number somewhat inflated by the Davante Adams signing but they also purged their roster and had the 9th most amount of salary acquired by other teams, though one of those was a QB who never played last year. The other three were running it back with many of the same players in 2022 while adding a few names to the mix expected to put them over the top. The other team was the Jets who ranked 7th in contract value added and took a much more proactive approach to free agency this year compared to the prior two offseasons. The Jets will have expectations of being relevant late in the year while the Steelers should have the aspirations of the playoffs again. The other three teams are likely considered Super Bowl or bust type expectations.
The Eagles had a net gain of $14.9 million ranking 26th in salary gained and 32nd in salary lost. The Bengals were similar with a 22/28 ranking for a net gain of just under $12 million. Detroit, Baltimore, Tampa and the Giants all kind of fall in this range with the Giants and Bucs being slightly negative. These teams are generally just running it back with a few additions and subtractions. I would anticipate that expectations for these teams are the same as what they were last season.
Reshuffling the Deck
The Colts, Commanders, Vikings, and Panthers are the teams I would put here. The net impact of gains and losses is minor but the hope is a big change in direction especially the Colts. Indy added the 9th most contract value at $49.3 million but lost the 11th most at $48 million. Obviously a good chunk of that is the swapping of QBs but they are trying to make things work in the same type of budget. Washington added the 10th most and lost the 16th most and in some world are expecting Carson Wentz to make them a playoff team. Minnesota added the 14th while Carolina added the 12th most. Both teams had over $25M in payers leave the team. The strategies here seem to indicate that the teams treated the offseason as a way to get over the playoff hump.
A Bit of a Salary Cap Crunch
This set of teams lost between $15 and $30 million in value this year with some of it likely being salary cap related. The 49ers, Saints, and Patriots were all near the $0 cap room mark for most of the offseason. Only the Saints pulled enough levers to create a bunch of cap room but that was done in the attempt to trade for Deshaun Watson. Wisely they seem to be sitting on that money to carry over to next year’s salary cap mess. Each of these teams could have done more this offseason but decided to keep in check, basically keeping most of the players on the team but not signing new ones. Expectations are probably slightly lower than last year.
The Oddball Team
The Seahawks had a net loss of $29 million (not including Wagner) driven by the loss of their QB which would seem to signal a rebuild, but they did add over $37 million in salary, 11th most in the NFL, which is an oddball decision for a team that should be rebuilding without Wilson. I guess you could consider that reshuffling the deck but with some much money out I just did not have a place to put them so I added them here.
Here we have teams whose team composition was also changed for salary cap purposes but they also made a conscious effort to simply begin resetting the rosters. The Chiefs are already down $30 million and that number should grow once Tyrann Mathieu signs somewhere. Clearly they are looking ahead at decisions and pulled away from the stars they could pull away from and will likely do more of that next season when it is time to move on from Frank Clark. Atlanta is down $38 million as they are still purging a terrible cap situation. No team lost more than Chicago who had nearly $75 million in contracts playing on other teams in 2022. This is a complete overhaul for them. The Rams are down $46 million (that will change with the Wagner signing) but lost the 3rd most in value this year, one of just a handful of teams to lose three or more $10M+ players. These teams are all going to have lower expectations than last season, unless they draft someone who is thought to be an impact player.
All Eyes on the Draft
Finally we have the Texans, Cardinals Cowboys, and Packers who I would put in this class. Houston has signed the most players but rank just 24th in contract value added, so it is all minor adds. Their overall value lost is bloated due to Watson, who didn’t play last year, but it is also clear they just signed players to fill out a roster while focusing on the draft to completely rebuild the team. The Cardinals went all in last year and basically added nothing while losing $53 million to other teams. They are a cap mess as well and can not continue with the strategy of adding older veterans on one and two year contracts. They need the draft to go really well. Dallas just began gutting their team. They lost $60 million in contracts to other teams including the trade of Amari Cooper and added a paltry $4.2 million in outside free agents. Finally the Packers lost $68 million in contract value including Adams, Smith, and Valdes-Scantling while restructuring every contract under the sun and extending Aaron Rodgers to a massive contract just to comply with the salary cap. They need major hits in the draft this year. Other than Houston each of these team’s should have a downgraded outlook.
Here is the data in table form for each team.
|Team||APY Value Gained||APY Value Lost||Net APY Change|
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.